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Pascagoula football legend says he was duped by ex-teammate in $20M healthcare fraud conspiracy

Former Pascagoula and Florida quarterback Shane Matthews has been sentenced to three months in federal prison.
Former Pascagoula and Florida quarterback Shane Matthews has been sentenced to three months in federal prison.

Former University of Florida and Pascagoula quarterback Shane Matthews said in a Tuesday statement that he was duped by a former teammate when he became involved in a $20 million healthcare fraud conspiracy that will cost him three months in a federal prison.

Matthews said in the statement he believed he was taking a “legitimate part-time job” when he went to work for fellow former Florida Gator Monty Grow for a marketing firm by the name of MGTEN.

He says he immediately began to cooperate with authorities when they approached him in the spring of 2016 and informed him that MGTEN was a fraudulent operation. He said he “offered to give back every cent of my compensation.”

The Miami Herald reported Monday that Matthews was sentenced last week to three months in federal prison for his role with an independent marketing firm created by Grow. Matthews has until June to start serving his sentence, according to Kevin Brockway of GatorSports.com.

Grow was convicted Monday in Miami of a scheme that took $20 million from the TRICARE program for military members, veterans and their families. He was also convicted of conspiring to receive and pay kickbacks for referring military beneficiaries to Patient Care America, a pharmacy based in Pompano, Florida, and money laundering.

The Miami Herald report says that Grow was accused in a 49-count indictment of hiring an independent marketing team, which included Matthews, in the conspiracy to bilk millions of dollars from the TRICARE program.

For lining up sales representatives who then delivered TRICARE patients for the pharmacy, Matthews was paid $440,000.

Grow faces up to 20 years in prison with his sentencing hearing set for April 16, according to the Miami Herald.

Matthews released a statement Tuesday to the Sun Herald and other media outlets giving his explanation of what took place:

“In early 2015, I was contacted by my former teammate and friend, Monty Grow regarding a position with his company as a pharmaceutical marketing representative. I took the position, which I had no reason to believe was anything other than a legitimate part-time job.

Unsuspecting, I worked for MGTEN for a short period of time. This job offered me the flexibility I needed to pursue my true passion, which is coaching high school football.

In the spring of 2016, I was approached by the authorities and informed that this was, indeed, a fraudulent operation. Stunned by this revelation, I immediately cooperated with the authorities and offered to give back every cent of my compensation.

I deeply regret getting involved with Mr. Grow’s business. My biggest mistake was not asking more questions in regards to his business practices. I have learned a valuable lesson in the importance of prudent decision making. Going forward, I will be sure to share this experience with the young men I coach so that they might avoid the pitfalls of a mistake this costly.

I accept full responsibility for my role in this operation. The punishment of a brief incarceration pales in comparison to the embarrassment this has caused me, my family, my friends, my team, and the Gator Nation. For letting down all those who have supported me over the years, I offer my sincerest apologies.”

The MGTEN firm was first incorporated by Grow in March of 2007, according to FloridaReg.com. Grow is listed as the only officer of the company.

Matthews played his junior and senior seasons at Pascagoula High School, helping lead the Panthers to the 1987 Class 5A state championship. He signed with Florida and was a First-Team All-SEC selection three times from 1990-92. In 1991, he finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting.

During an NFL career that lasted from 1993-2006, Matthews played for the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. He threw for 4,756 yards, 31 touchdowns and 24 interceptions over 31 games during his NFL career.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

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